Monthly Archives: August 2010

Some Life Lessons I’ve Gathered in 24 Years, Pt. 2

Relationships.

OK. Last week, I said I would break this Life Lessons concept apart to buy myself more time to think about what I’ve actually learned about relationships worth repeating.

Well here it is.

Stay away from men who have a lot of female “friends.”

That is, if you can resist them.

That’s the thing about men with a lot of female “friends”–they’re usually super charming, sexy, sensitive, attentive, etc. That’s why they have so many “friends.”

The reason why I say stay away from these types of men is that men don’t define “friends” the way we do. Or at least, not the way I do.

To me, a friend = someone with whom I am not flirting, feeling in “that” way or becoming close on multiple levels with.

I don’t know why I have such a stringent definition of friendship, but in my mind and heart, if we are crossing “that” line, we are crossing between categories too.  I’m not sayin we’re necessarily boyfriend girlfriend, but if we becoming closer in “that” way, I no longer count you or refer to you as my friend. Sometimes, I begin to count you among my enemies. But that’s neither here nor there.

IMP’T:
NOT THE CASE WITH MEN.

Let’s recap before moving on. Women (or at least me): Friend = with whom I am not flirting, feeling in “that” way or becoming close on multiple levels with.

OK.

Now men.

Friend = everyone.

The end.

And if you’re lettin him hit, shoot, that just shows him how friendly you are.

It is never safe to assume that you are on some kind of elevated status to a man who has a lot of female “friends.” He may spend time with you, look at you, make you feel all special, but if you are not his girlfriend (and sometimes even if you are), please believe that when you call or text him while he’s with another one of his “friends” and she asks who you are…

“Oh…just a friend.”

Now, IF YOU CAN HANDLE THAT:

By all means, go for it. When they’re with you, men who have a lot of female “friends” have a way of making you feel so good. They’re smooth. They’re not awkward with their conversation or body language like a guy who doesn’t spend a lot of time around girls.

BUT,

if you’re like me (i.e. prone to do something crazy), I beg you: Stay away! Keep your legs crossed, your mouth closed and your hands to yourself at all costs!

Next life lesson to come: How to keep your whites white and avoid bleach stains on your towels (I’m serious).

We’re at War

Is it me, or does anyone else out there have a hard time understanding the reality of situations that are not directly and immediately related to their situations?

I have a book sitting on my…well…if I owned a coffee table it would be sitting on my coffee table. Instead it’s sitting on one of the storage bins I use as a dresser. It’s something like Experience the War in Iraq Through Photos. I bought it because I don’t think it’s fair that I get to live my relatively unaffected life while halfway across the world, schools are getting bombed on accident. Across the world, civilians are caught in the crossfire of war; here, if you’re not in a military family and don’t watch the news, it’s possible to go for days or weeks without thinking about it.

I keep thinking about Rosie the Riviter, about wartime rations, about how women gave up their nylons, about the draft, about televised combat, and about how, now, we don’t even have to think about the war.

I don’t have anyone in my immediate family on active duty in the military, so I bought this photo book because I wanted to force the horror of war into my consciousness.

I looked through it once.

I saw a photo of a kid who…I think he stepped on a landmine or something. It was horrifying. I started crying. I put the book down.

Our nation going to war may not be a choice, but we live in a nation with an “all-volunteer” military, meaning that unless they choose to implement the draft again, no one is obligated under law to serve in the military for any amount of time.

You know they have that, in other countries? Conscription, it’s called–mandatory military service.

I’m just saying…if I’m not going to join the military, give up my nylons, eat less sugar or meats or build weapons at night…I could at least give the war my awareness. But we don’t even HAVE to do that.

What do you guys think?

Some Life Lessons I’ve Gathered in 24 Years, Part 1

My birthday is on September 8. I will be 24 years old. I keep thinking about my State of Adulthood anyway, but this morning as I was riding my bike to work, the chain popped off. As I was fixing it, I started thinking about all the really useful life lessons I’ve learned and applied to my life over the past 24 years.

It’s disturbingly short, and can be divided into three categories: Transportation, Relationships and Laundry.

Transportation.

Cars:
1) Always get your oil changes. On time. Seriously, this is probably the cardinal rule of car ownership, and something I of course learned the hard way, after destroying the engine of my first car.
2) Make sure there’s gas in the car. You would think this is probably something no one would have to learn the hard way, much less learn the hard way twice, but believe me. After calling Triple A and being towed to a gas station in front of all of my friends, then “breaking down” a couple years later (i.e. last week) and having a mechanic come out to my car, tell me it’s my fuel line, then pause and ask…”Well, do you have any gas?” only for me to giggle and reply “Well, it is on E…” just take it from me: you canNOT make it those three extra miles/trips.

Put gas in your car.

Bikes:
If you are going to rely on a bike as a form of transportation (as opposed to exercise or recreational activity), you’d best learn how to fix a bike chain.
This may sound obvious to some people, but it is something that never once occurred to me as I happily made the decision to ride my bike to work every day, thereby giving myself the green light to eat as many tacos, pieces of bacon and Hardees 2-piece chicken dinners as my heart desired.

Fantasy:

Reality:

The first time (but definitely not the last) my bike chain popped off, some man came, took the tire off, put it back on, put the tire back on, and I went about my business.

Until oh, about, the next time I went to ride my bike. At which point the tire started skipping….and the chain popped off. Again. Turns out, taking the tire off a bike is the absolutely most WRONG way to fix a bike chain, like, ever.

This is the way you fix a bike chain without causing more problems:

1) You take the part of the chain nearest the front tire off the teeth.
2) You put the part of the chain nearest the back tire back on the teeth.
3) You lift up the bike and turn the pedals until the front part catches.
4) DON’T DO ANYTHING ELSE. YOUR BIKE IS FIXED.

When I started this post, I really thought I could fit all three categories of life lessons into one post. But I’m already at 500 words, and I don’t want to damage anyone’s eyes by exposing them to extended EMF waves due to a 1500-word blog post.

That would be very inconsiderate of me.

Therefore, I am breaking this concept up into 4-parts: Transportation, Relationships, Laundry, and my birthday. I’m sure by the time my birthday has come and gone, I will have a new life lesson to share.

I hope so, anyway.

Otherwise I didn’t do it right.

Arab Carrie Bradshaws/Why I’m Inept at Men

Yeah yeah. Another dating and relationships post. I’m going through something, OK? Sue me.

(Please don’t sue me)

I was reading through the freshly pressed blogs in hopes of leaving clever, quippy comments on people’s pages that would draw them to my page and then generate enough buzz around me to land me on the freshly pressed page…and I saw the “Will the Real ‘Carrie Bradshaw of the Middle East’ Please Come Forward” post.

This intrigued me for a myriad of reasons.

First, I read that SATC 2 couldn’t actually film in the Middle East because of, you know, all the sex. So they had to film their scenes in Morocco.

Second, knowing that, I found it really ironic that women are being deemed the Carrie Bradshaw of the Middle East, and it made me wonder if that’s an entirely complimentary comparison.

(Though I guess that really depends on who decided not to let the ladies film there and who are calling these authors the Middle Eastern Carrie Bradshaws)

Third, as I was reading her post, it also seemed interesting to me that one author rejected that comparison, and the other embraced it with a qualifier: she’s Sex and the City, but with no sex.

With the differences in culture and ideology that a comparison like that would have to span, it’s just difficult for me to understand why those women would be compared to Carrie Bradshaw–do we have no other female figures to embody the genre of women-written and read literature?

(woo–alliteration. and that was a complicated sentence structure)

For chrissakes, Carrie Bradshaw is a woman in her late-30s who refers to herself as a girl, who had to be talked into buying her apartment by her friends (and then had to borrow money to buy said apartment from said friends), who went back and forth with the same emotionally unavailable man for six years, who would gladly put herself in debt for the next designer shoe and whose books were called fluff by her own movie.

Not to mention, and this one is the kicker,

Carrie Bradshaw is a FICTIONAL CHARACTER.

Finally, and I guess the women’s movement needs people to fight on all levels, but it just seems like a very light and fluffy way to describe the women who are doing what those authors are doing, given the way the lives of Middle Eastern women are portrayed.

Or maybe I’m wrong.

I don’t live in the Middle East, I’m not Middle Eastern, and the only Middle Eastern women I’ve ever befriend I’ve met through work or school, and they all seem pretty autonomous. None of the Islamic women I’ve befriend have even covered their hair, actually.

I don’t know.

It just stood out to me.

Anyway,

I was checking out the blog of a self-proclaimed Arab Carrie Bradshaw, and I came across a post from 2007 called The Art of Game Playing, about The Game of Love, if you will. She was talking about how she didn’t understand the concept of the game, how it didn’t make sense that women were the only ones who had to play and how she was inept at any games, with The Game of Love being no exception.

All the way on the other side of the world and three years in the past, there etched into the Interwebz, are the vibes of my heart come from my soul sister.

I totally get you, Arab Carrie.

And for the record, I think your writing topics are so much more intelligent and relevant than those written by Darren Star and crew.

Note: This does not mean that I have not seen every episode of Sex and The City at least twice, don’t own the movie and didn’t dress up and go with my closest girlfriend to go see SATC2 at midnight the night it came out.

Because I definitely did.

And for the record, I think I’m a cross between Carrie (the writer thing and the neuroses) and Samantha, with a little of Miranda’s cynicism and social anxieties peppered in for extra flavor.

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Mismatched Socks/Marriage for all the Wrong Reasons

See those legs leading to those mismatched socks? That’s the way I look today. Well, technically, since I won’t publish this till tomorrow, that’s the way I looked yesterday.

Crazy.

I spend a great deal of my days involved in some kind of crazy. Lookin crazy, feeling crazy, sometimes even smellin crazy. Yesterday, I had to walk a mile in 100 degree weather in a polyester shirt, then immediately after, go be around people. I felt so bad for those people; I know I smelt crazy.

From this point on, this post will probably seem, to some of you, pretty crazy. But there are some who will smell me and know my funk ain’t crazy–it’s just a natural reaction to hot weather and fabric that don’t breathe.

I had a dream last night that I married my ex. And no, this isn’t the guy who I mentioned before, this is the cause of my 2007-2008 annual breakdown (I seriously do have one every year).  In the dream, I was marrying him because I didn’t want to end up alone, so I figured I’d go ahead and *lock it up

with the man who was willing to take me, even though I didn’t love him.

So we had a wedding and I wore a simple white shift and a bunch of people from my church were there.

But I knew, immediately, that I had made a mistake. Like, immediately after we exchanged “I dos,” I began to think about how every moment I spent married to this man was robbing me of the chance to be with the one who I would be excited to marry. And I kept seeing all these couples who were in these crazy-looking wedding dresses (in contrast to my shift I guess) and the women were laughing, and it just really drove the point home that every moment I spent married to this man was a minute that was being deducted from the time I would spend with my True Love. We only have a limited amount of time here, after all.

It was so pure and so clear that for a second, everything made sense. Of course I would be single right now, because every second I’m spending with the wrong guy is a second taken from the right one.

I found it encouraging because I have been in prayer with God throughout my 2010 annual breakdown, asking that He might give me understanding and insight about my situation. Not the attempts at understanding I make with my emotion-driven theories of how it’s in the Bible that a man will only seek out a woman once he’s bored with everything else going on and is a little horny [Genesis: Adam asked God for a mate once he saw the other animals doing what with their partners? I doubt they were talking], but a clear and more perfect understanding of the whys of my situations and annual breakdowns so that I don’t venture away from Him to find my answers.

Yeah,

despite all the cussing,

I’m pretty Christian.

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The Flip Side: Not All Dads are DeadBeats

Maybe it’s because I’m a journalism major (oh–excuse me. I WAS a journalism major when I was doing my undergrad [last week].), but I try to understand the flip side of every perspective. And because I was man-bashing last night, I’d like to present a scenario that someone who I love very much is going through right now involving a baby mama with no goals.

Yes, it’s true that in a lot of cases, we women give men the power to completely break us down and ruin our lives.

But it is also true that in a small subsect of situations, the laws of our grand institution give women the right to destroy a man’s credit, put him in jail and plummet his standard of living by affecting his chances at achieving gainful employment completely consequence-free. Their WMD?

Babies.

Don’t get me wrong. I was raised by a single mother. She worked her ass off to provide me and my brother with a life because she couldn’t depend on our father. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, and I’m not trying to invalidate the struggle of women who are trying to raise a child alone or of women and men who are trying to raise a child together.

All I’m saying is that sometimes, sometimes, it’s not always safe to assume that the man in a situation is a dead beat. Every now and then you really do run into women with no goals or hobbies, and those women have the power, legally, to destroy severely complicate a man’s life while doing nothing more to better the lives of herself and her child than repeatedly taking her baby daddy to court, renewing her welfare, Medicaid and TANiF paperwork, and generating the sympathies of everyone around her by bashing the baby daddy to anyone who will listen.

And we will listen.

I know, I KNOW it’s not always the case and it may not even often be the case and it’s probably NEVER as simple as I just made it, but I just wanted to say for the young man who I love very much and who I see trying to get himself together while I watch his baby mama live with her parents, work at a minimum-wage job part time and collect a host of social services, that not every dad who is not with the mom is a deadbeat dad.

Feel free to tear this post apart.

Now that you hate me, gear up to feel sorry for me here.

The EMOtioner and the emoSHUNee

I talked to one of my very best friends yesterday about men. He is a gay man, and he has seen me through two of my yearly cycles of man-induced nervous breakdowns. I am just coming off 2010’s breakdown and have started the rebuilding process, and so we could finally talk again (which is, of course, different than me alternately obsessing/questioning over why the current He doesn’t love me and planning to burn his house down or mace his car door [IMP’T: NONE OF WHICH I ACTUALLY DID]).

My friend was cussing me out in the very best way anyone could hope to be cussed, telling me how much he doesn’t understand why I allow these men to make me so sad when I have so much going for myself.

But my friend is a Thinker, and so our conversation topics usually branch out from the personal to the World, and so we began talking about the way men are allowed to treat women in general: shitty.

Ever notice how, in relationships, there always seems to be an EMOtioner and an emoSHUNee? As in, one party who turns emotions into a verb and just EMOTES all over the other party, spewing feelings of obsession and parental issues and insecurity and abandonment fears strait into the lap of the other party (and ruining that party’s date pants in the process); and another party who is more than happy to spend time with you, to have lengthy, in-depth conversations with you, to hold hands, stare into your eyes, to bring you soup when you’re sick or to drop you at work when your car’s in the shop…but won’t kiss you on the lips? Or introduce you to his friends? …Or has another girl in his life with whom he also spends an awful lot of time (though he insists she’s just his homegirl)?

No?

OK. Maybe you have healthy relationships.

Well, that always seems to be the case with me. And I think it’s pretty clear by now that I’m the EMOtioner. And there’s no other type of man who can send me spiraling into my next annual breakdown quite like the emoSHUNee.

I’ve pretty much just spent my life accepting that there’s something wrong with me and I’m the only female in the world who has these disasterous relationship-type scenarios with emoSHUNees, but as my perspective has grown I’ve come to see that this is something a lot of women go through.

We think we’re gonna show him how special we are by cooking his favorite foods and remembering the shit he mentions and letting him come over and fall asleep whenever he has time in his busy schedule. We think, “I’ll love him, exactly as he is: too busy for me and emoSHUNionally unavaliable, until the force and constancy of my love clears his schedule and breaks down the walls of his heart.”

Guess what ladies?

That does not make us special. He can get that anywhere.

Somehow, our society has trained a lot of us women to feel like if we placate these men, if we cater to their every whim, if we laugh at their jokes, if we make sure they know that they don’t have to meet us halfway–we’ll come to them, if we just stick around long enough and love them hard enough, they’ll see us. You know? They’ll see us shining like the jewels we are, and they’ll pick us up and give us a ring.

Only problem is that we’re all doing it, and so these mofos is makin jewel-encrusted charm bracelets for themselves instead.

Well, not all of us. But I know a lot of us women take a lot of shit from these men. Just look at the number of tired, overworked single mothers out there busting their asses taking care of kids who some man decided he didn’t want to/need to/care to support. And then those women feel guilty about not providing their children with fathers. They blame themselves.

The thing is, we’re taught that none of our accomplishments matter if we’re single. I mean, that’s how I feel. It’s not what I think, of course, but it’s the reason why I could cry and rage at my friends, trying to figure out what is WRONG with me in the same month I got my Bachelor’s degree.

I don’t know. Maybe really nobody else goes through this.

That would be awkward.

But if you do…I don’t know. We need to stop letting these men make or break the way we feel about ourselves though.

Why don’t we just start there….

Now that you feel sorry for me, gear up to hate me here.